Discovery and Innovation

The Henry Ford Medical Group is one of the leading group practices in the United States in research funding by the National Institutes of Health. Our research enterprise, totaling $55 million annually in grant funding from all sources, allows physicians to work side by side with scientists to develop new therapies and new ways to deliver therapies to make them more effective against disease. The cycle of bench to bedside research as well as the focus on continuous improvement and innovation in technology has resulted in remarkable discoveries and advancements over the years.

The Henry Ford Medical Group has a long history of innovation over the past century including the first open heart surgery, the first kidney and pancreas transplants, delivery of new medicines from heparin to human insulin, as well as new therapies such as spinal radiosurgery to reduce cancer pain while preserving ambulation.

Recent notable accomplishments in discovery and innovation by the Henry Ford Medical Group include:

  • Mani Menon, M.D., developed the VUI robotic procedure for prostate cancer 5 years ago. The adoption of this procedure has been unprecedented. Now over 50% of all such cancer procedures in the US are performed with the VUI technique. Robotic applications are now being developed in other surgical areas.
  • Svend Freytag, Ph.D., is leading a research team in the first approved application of gene therapy to treat advanced prostate cancer. This technology could have widespread clinical application.
  • Scott Dulchavsky, M.D., and colleagues have developed ultrasound technology which allows remote transmission of images for rapid diagnosis. First developed for the International Space Station, this technology has now been adopted by professional sports teams, the United States Olympic Committee, and the United Nations as it addresses rural health problems.
  • Richard Zarbo, M.D., and his staff have pioneered the use of LEAN engineering to reduce waste and improve quality in the clinical laboratories. This pioneering effort has produced impressive quality results as well as cost savings and has attracted national attention both inside and outside the profession. It is likely that the “Henry Ford” approach will become a national standard.
  • Scientist Dr. Michael Chopp with Neuroscience Stroke Center physician specialists have pioneered the use of brain neuroregeneration therapies for stroke patients.
  • The Henry Ford Medical Group has established the third largest Simulation and Education Center in the country. Our staff will qualify and re-qualify on new technologies and also learn such cognitive skills as communication and teamwork. We are committed to advancing the knowledge in these largely unexplored areas of quality and safety, similar to what has been done in aviation.
  • Innovation Units have been established both for medical and surgical patient care at Henry Ford Hospital as a way to trial new patient communication methods and team care processes aimed at improving the patient experience. New communication methods such as hourly patient “rounds,” whiteboards in patient room outlining the day’s treatment agenda, and others have resulted in significantly improved patient satisfaction scores. Some patients have even requested to be admitted to these Innovation Units upon needing to be hospitalized at Henry Ford Hospital.